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NATO Parliamentary Assembly
30 May 2004

BRATISLAVA, 30 May - NATO's highest priority must be to deny terror groups access to nuclear material, Dr. William Potter, a non-proliferation expert, told the Political Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) at a meeting in Bratislava during its 5 day Spring Session.

Dr. Potter, who is Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), California, USA, warned the legislators that the purpose of those groups may be that of detonating nuclear explosives in our cities. He stressed that what has happened since September 11, 2001 is that "it has not suddenly become easier to build a nuclear bomb but we must assume that non-state actors will be content to produce an improvised nuclear device (IND) that does not meet military specifications and could be assembled at the target site."

Referring to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) he asserted that the NPT together with other current arms control treaties such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and bilateral initiatives were inadequate to deal with this looming problems of "the dispersal of highly radioactive material by conventional explosives or other means, the attack on, or sabotage of, nuclear power installations, the theft or purchase of fissile material for the purpose of building and detonating a nuclear explosive device, and the seizure of intact nuclear weapons."

Dr. Potter called for a three pronged attack by national governments and international organizations to meet the challenges posed by nuclear terrorism: This should include pursuing a highly enriched uranium (HEU) - first strategy which would "secure, consolidate and down-blend all excess stocks of HEU before disposing of weapons-grade plutonium as reactor fuel and to secure, consolidate and/or eliminate HEU globally by converting all research reactors to run on low enriched uranium (LEU) and to down-blend stocks of HEU to low enrichment levels." He also called for "binding international standards for the physical protection of fissile material which should apply to all civilian and military HEU."

For more information: Jonathan Clayton (+421-902849128)or Keith Williams at NATO PA Press and Information Office Tel (421-2) 5752 6920/21 Fax (421-2) 5752 6922 or

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